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Geek, part-time cyclist, ecoist, bad photographer, vegetarian. I fiddle with WordPress and Edu Tech.

Tag: food

Roasted aubergine and red pepper couscous with halloumi cheese recipe

This is fairly quick to knock up and makes enough for 4 portions, it’s also easy to make vegan by replacing the halloumi cheese with sliced tofu.

Ingredients – Makes 4 portions

220g uncooked couscous

Olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 vegetable stock cube (I use a Knorr stock pot)

330ml boiling water

1 large or 2 medium red onions

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large aubergine

2 sweet red peppers

1 250g block of halloumi or 1 block of tofu

1 can of cooked green lentils (Lentilles Vertes)

A drop of truffle oil – Optional

Method

Right, heat your oven to 200C, I’ve got a fan oven.

De-seed your peppers, chop them into pieces, make them however big you want.

Chop the aubergine into slices and then into pieces, again, any size you want but bear in mind you want all this to roast fairly quickly.

Throw the pepper and aubergine on baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, add a twist of black pepper and mix it all together.

Put that in the oven to roast and grab the onion(s).

Peel and chop the onions, put them in a large pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a twist of black pepper, cook over a medium heat until they’re turning soft and almost translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for a few more minutes but don’t over cook the garlic.

Once the veg has been roasting in the oven for 10 minutes take it out, give it a shake and a turn and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes.

Slice the halloumi cheese into 8 slices, add a little olive oil to a frying pan and get it on a medium heat. Add the slices of halloumi and cook until golden brown, keep an eye on them, they can brown quickly. When both sides are done remove from the pan and set aside.

Your roast veg should have had about 20 minutes now, check to see if it’s done, I like it slightly crispy and almost burnt, each to their own. If it’s done, turn the oven off and get started on the cous cous.

Dissolve the stock pot in 330ml of boiling water, add the couscous to the pan with the onions and garlic and place on a very low heat. Add the stock to the pan, stir to cover the couscous and put a lid on the pan.

After 2-3 minutes give the couscous a stir, it should have swollen up and taken on all the water, if it hasn’t, put the lid back on and give it another minute but keep checking.

Once it’s done, drain the lentils and add them to the pan along with the roasted veg and halloumi cheese.

Add the totally optional drop of truffle oil and give it all a good stir, I know it sounds really pretentious but I think it really makes a difference. If you’ve not got truffle oil and you’re tempted to get some make sure it’s a good quality oil with some real truffle, I’ve got some of the Truffle Hunter oils.

Hob Nobs recipe

Quick and easy, much more satisfying than buying a pack! These can easily be made vegan by substituting butter for vegan spread.

Hob Nobs

Hob Nobs

Ingredients – Makes 30 – 40 depending on size

225g of self raising flour
225g of sugar
225g of good whole porridge oats
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
225g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
1 tablespoon of hot water

Method

Place all the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

In a pan melt the butter, syrup and add the hot water.

When melted add to the dry ingredients.

Mix well, make into small balls and place on a greased baking tray, flatten slightly.

Bake at 180C for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool on a rack and nom!

Pasta with Chickpeas, Tomatoes and Broccoli recipe

Another stolen recipe which has been changed slightly. Originally by Rose Elliot this has tenderstem broccoli added to it and mushrooms taken away. I’m sure it would be just as nice with mushrooms, I didn’t have any though! We had it on day 3 of Veggie August and it made more than enough for the two of us with leftovers for lunch the next day!

Ingredients – Makes enough for 4-6

Olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

3 big cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 vegetarian stock cube (I used a Knorr Stock Pot)

A glug of red wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon of sugar

200g of tenderstem broccoli

325g of wholewheat pasta

Method

Add a little olive oil to a pan and over a medium heat add the onion, fry for about 10 minutes but keep moving the onion, it just needs to be lightly browned.

Once the onion is almost done add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, stock cube, red wine vinegar, sugar and season with the black pepper, give it all a good stir and let it heat through.

Meanwhile add the pasta to a large pan of boiling water and cook for around 10 minutes.

Once you’ve got the pasta started add the broccoli to another pan of boiling water and cook for the last 6-8 minutes.

When the pasta and broccoli are cooked drain them both and add them to the tomato sauce.

Give it all a stir and serve!

No meat, no meal?

I suppose I’m a bit of a pretentious fucker when it comes to food, I’ve always found comfort in food, from reading about it, to preparing it, to eating it. I’ve been lucky enough to try all sorts of different things, I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world and eat in some amazing places, even if sometimes things got lost in translation and “Pork” turned out to be “Dog”, but that’s another story for another blog post…

In the last few years I’ve taken more of an interest in food provenance, trying to buy meat that is locally reared and well looked after or using seasonal ingredients instead of whatever we can import for convenience. I’ve Tweeted about my problem with Marks & Spencer (and I’m sure others) selling potatoes imported from Israel, the last time I checked we could grow potatoes just fine in the UK.

I digress, so, anyway we have a few friends who are vegetarian, we’ve shared food and we’ve been introduced to new things by them. After embarking on my mammoth 1000 mile cycling journey this year and changing what I eat completely we began talking about trying out a vegetarian diet for a month and the idea of “Veggie August” was born.

I’d already cut out a lot of meat from my diet and my wife and I mainly eat chicken when we do have meat, but I adore game and seafood and I head straight to that part of the menu whenever I can. I’ve always felt like I’m full of energy even after riding my 60 miles a week but our vegetarian friends rave about how good they feel just from having moved to a more natural and let’s be honest, ethical way of eating.

So, yesterday was the start of Veggie August, we’re foregoing meat for a month and seeing how we feel. I generally do the cooking at home and for a while have done a mix of meat and veggie food anyway so moving over to vegetarian shouldn’t be too much trouble. I’ve stolen recipes from The Waiting Room, an amazing local vegetarian restaurant and I’ve been pointed in the direction of Becka Eats, a great blog about veggie and vegan food.

So for day 1, we went with Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash, a recipe from Becka’s blog but changed slightly from vegan to veggie purely for convenience! I’m going to add the recipes for what I cook in August to the blog and share how the month is going…

 

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash recipe

Blatantly stolen from Becka Eats this is the first meal we had in Veggie August. The lentils give it a great texture and the sweet potato mash with nutmeg tastes amazing!

Ingredients – Makes enough 4 with leftovers for lunch.

Olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Half a cup of Puy lentils (I could only find Lentille Verte)

Half a cup of green lentils

2 bay leaves

2 onions, peeled and chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed (Just like your hopes and dreams)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

3 tablespoons of tomato purée

1 tablespoon of dried oregano

3 large carrots, peeled and diced

1 vegetarian stock cube (I used a Knorr Stock Pot)

250ml of red wine (Why not drink the rest of the bottle?)

3-4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into equal sized chunks

A splash of milk

A wedge of butter

Freshly grated nutmeg

Method

Wash the lentils, add them to a pan with the bay leaves. Cover with water and and bring to the boil. All in all they probably want around half an hour, you don’t want them to turn to mush so keep an eye on them.

Meanwhile put your sweet potatoes in a pan, cover with water and get them onto boil, they probably want 20-30 minutes.

After you’ve got that sorted, add a little olive oil to a big pan and add the onion, carrots and garlic. Over a medium heat sauté them for about 10 minutes but don’t let them brown. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, wine, pepper, oregano and stock pot. Give it all a good stir and cook for another 10-15 minutes until it’s thickened.

Now would be a good point to pre-heat your oven on to finish off the dish, 200C should be enough.

Around now the lentils should be done, drain them and add them to your tomato sauce. Give it all another good stir and keep warm on a low heat.

Once the sweet potato is cooked drain the water from it, add a good wedge of butter, a splash of milk and half a grated nutmeg. Give it a good mash and check the seasoning.

Spoon the tomato lentil sauce into a baking dish and top with the sweet potato mash, rough it up with the tines of a fork and put it in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes until the mash starts to brown.

Shovel a generous helping into a bowl and enjoy!

From Paris to Warsaw…

Well it could have been from Paris to Warsaw, it certainly didn’t feel like it. At the beginning of 2011 I kind of made a resolution to cycle more, it all started in 2010 after getting a bike through the cycle2work scheme.

I’m lazy, very lazy, if I can do something without putting much effort in I will. Cycling seemed like the perfect thing to do coupled with the fact I could get a cheap bike through work. I could take it as easy as I wanted or push myself as hard as I could bother so that’s what I started to do. I also wanted to not be as much of a fat bastard, I got married in the middle of 2010, I knew I was overweight but didn’t do anything about it, when I saw our wedding pictures I realised that I was actually 18 stone and had to do something.

I started to ride on a weekend with my friend Dan Traynor, we rode from Nunthorpe to Guisborough and up through the forrest. We’d go up and over the moors or stay in the forrest and do some trails, 15-20 miles broke me into cycling gently. I started to ride to and from work occasionally, changed my diet and the excess weight started to come off.

I set myself a target of doing 1000 miles in 2011, it seemed easily reachable and I could spread it out over 12 months. At the time we lived 2.5 miles away from where I work, so 5 miles a day would take me to around 1000 and I could even have a few days off the bike if I wanted. My route took me down some quiet roads and through Middlesbrough’s Albert Park, it was a nice way to start the day instead of being stuck in traffic, or if you look at it another way, being traffic.

In April we moved from Middlesbrough to Ingleby Barwick putting my daily ride up to 12 miles, 240 miles a month if I cycle every day. I started to think that 240 miles a month is almost a tank of petrol that was costing me close to £70, on top of that I was paying £20 a month to get access to a car park at work which I was using less and less.

Teesside University have done a lot to help the uptake of sustainable tansport with staff, as well as taking part in the cycle2work scheme they provide secure storage for bikes, lockers, showers and places to change. They’ve even had electric car charging points installed in their main carpark. Along with the Middlesbrough Cycle Centre that Middlesbrough Council run, Middlesbrough seems to now be very accessible to people wanting to arrive by alternative means.

So, I’ve done my 1000 miles, what do I do now? I could easily up the target, 2011 miles in 2011? I’ve lost almost 4 stone in weight, I’m very close to 14 stone.

I’ve met some good people on the way and changed the way I think about transport, food and life. I’ve taken some falls, I think I broke a rib or two but I’m a stubborn bastard and wouldn’t get it seen to.

Gerry McBride who I stumbled upon on Twitter has set up Don’t drive on the 5, a website to “encourage as many people as possible to leave their cars at home on the 5th day of each month, and consider using alternative means of transport to get about.”.

Neal Harper who also works at Teesside University does the same as me and comes by bike, even after taking a fairly major fall and being out of action for a while. Gerry and Neal recently cycled coast to coast with some others, something I’d definitely think about doing now I know I’ve got the legs for it!

So far this year I’ve spent 80 hours cycling, burnt over 75000 calories and as Andrew Marsh nicely put it “climbed the equivalent of nearly 12 Empire State Buildings in elevation gain”.

The old and new me.

Sweet potato and Jarlsberg crumble recipe

Another recipe stolen from the lovely people at The Waiting Room and tweaked slightly. It easily makes enough for 6 or 4 very hungry people!

Ingredients

600g of organic sweet potatoes, the larger the better

2 or 3 red onions

200g of grated Jarlsberg cheese, or Gruyere, well, anything you want really!

½ pint of double cream

1 tablespoon of French mustard

Freshly ground black pepper

15g of jumbo oats

15g of pumpkin seeds

15g of sunflower seeds

10g of wholemeal flour

20g of strong white flour

75g of unsalted butter

Method

Preheat oven to 200C (reduce if you’ve got a fan oven).

Peel the sweet potatoes and slice either with a mandoline or sharp knife so they’re  3-4mm thick

Do exactly the same with the red onions.

Place alternate layers of sweet potato, red onion and cheese in a large baking dish until you’ve used all your ingredients, try to end on a layer of sweet potato covered in cheese.

Add the French mustard to the double cream and season with freshly ground black pepper, pour over the layered ingredients.

Mix together the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and flours into a crumble mix. Sprinkle over the top of the layered ingredients.

Break the butter up into chunks and dot over the top of the crumble.

Cover with foil and bake for an hour, remove the foil and then return to the oven for 30 minutes. Keep checking occasionally at this point, you don’t want the crumble mix to burn!

Serve with rosemary and garlic potatoes and your favourite coleslaw.

Butternut squash and blue cheese risotto recipe

“Amazing” is the only word I can use to describe this, the risotto is creamy yet ever so slightly salty from the cheese. The recipe below made more than enough for 4 (probably enough for 6) so I had left overs for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

  • 1 big organic butternut squash (the one I used was 1.4KG)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 large organic onion
  • 75g of unsalted butter
  • A bottle of white wine (You can drink most of it)
  • 1.5litres of vegetable stock
  • 300g of soft blue cheese (I couldn’t find Gorgonzola so I used Saint Agur)
  • 500g of risotto rice

Method

  • Preheat oven to 220C (reduce if you’ve got a fan oven).
  • Peel, halve, deseed and slice the butternut squash, drizzle with the olive oil and season with ground black pepper.
  • Place the seasoned squash on a baking tray and bake in the oven until soft (40 minutes was enough for me, turn the squash after 20).
  • Remove the squash from the oven and chop into bite size pieces.
  • Add the butter to a large pan and melt over a medium heat.
  • Finely dice the onion and add to the pan, cook until soft.
  • Add the risotto rice, stir until coated in butter.
  • Add a small glass of white wine, stir, drink the rest of the bottle.
  • Turn the heat down to low.
  • Add the stock, one ladle at a time, stir continuously until the rice has taken up the liquid then add another ladle of stock until it’s all gone. Now is probably not the time for a game of Angry Birds, you need to stir all the time and not let the rice stick to the pan. This will probably take half an hour.
  • At the very last minute add the chopped butternut squash and stir.
  • Break the blue cheese into chunks, add it to the risotto and stir.
  • Check the seasoning, you probably don’t want to add any salt but fire away with the black pepper!
  • Serve with some freshly baked focaccia and more wine.

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